Christian groups demand Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila cancel upcoming gig

Lebanese Christian groups are 'pressuring' indie band Mashrou' Leila to cancel their upcoming performance at the Byblos International Festival.

Members of Mashrou Leila wearing all pink

Mashrou’ Leila, a Lebanese indie band with an openly gay frontman have been deemed offensive to Christianity by Lebanese Christian groups. Lead singer, Hamed Sinno, sings Arabic lyrics which confront provocative and taboo social issues. The clerics are demanding the band cancel their planned performance on August 9 at the Byblos International Festival.

The band responded to the backlash on Facebook, saying, “We were then quickly surprised by a defamatory campaign, which relied exclusively on fabrications that couldn’t be further from the truth, to crush freedom of expression”.

Conservative Christian groups spoke out against the group on 22nd July, stating, “After looking at the goals of Mashrou’ Leila and the content of the songs it performs, which affect religious and humanitarian values as well as Christian sanctities, the Maronite Archdiocese of Jbeil strongly condemns the concert”.

The group has demanded the band be excluded from “the land of holiness, civilisation and history.” Father Abdo Abu Kasm told Voice of Lebanon Radio, “We won’t let this go through”.

Father Kasm also spoke about reporting the gig as “a danger to our community” to Byblos’ members of parliament.

Numerous people have taken to Twitter to express solidarity with Mashrou’ Leila. Nasri Atallah, a British-Lebanese writer, said, “It is shameful that they are welcomed with open arms in the world’s biggest venues and treated like this at home”. 

The group shared, “It is very sad that some of the lyrics from our songs have been cherry-picked, taken out of context, and twisted into a meaning very far from what the songs are actually about. The easiest way to pervert a work is to take words out of context.”

The band are celebrating their ten year anniversary since coming together while studying at the American University of Beirut. They were previously banned from playing in the Roman amphitheatre in Amman, Jordan in 2016.

Mashrou’ Leila were featured in an interview in GCN issue 354.

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